In a normally noisy and bustling area of Old Town Newhall, only a trumpet was heard at one point as hundreds of residents stood quietly together, honoring local veterans at the annual Veterans Day ceremony on Monday.
The annual event, hosted by the city of Santa Clarita and multiple organizations, such as the Santa Clarita Valley Veteran Services Collaborative and the 1st Marine Division Associates, was held at the Veterans Historical Plaza, where the community had the chance to personally thank local veterans of the different branches of the U.S. armed forces for their service.
“As our nation pays tribute to its veterans who served honorably in the military, in wartime and in peacetime, we take time to honor those Santa Clarita Valley residents, both known and unknown, who have served our country,” said Mayor Marsha McLean at the ceremony. “We will never, ever forget.”
An estimated 400 people attended the event to observe a changing of the flags by the Knights of Columbus Santa Clarita Assembly and Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 355, and patriotic performances and speeches by Alesia Humphries, Steve Dole, John and Marina Stratton and Robert Heinisch.
Purple Heart recipient Robert Patrick Lewis, a former green beret, and an Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran was among the speakers.
“Whether you took the oath of investment or not, whether you consider yourself an American patriot or not, or whether you have children of your own or not, it is time for all of us to ask ourselves, are we willing to throw all of this away and upend the greatest social experiment known to man, leaving a nation with fewer freedoms and rights for our next generation to inherit?” Lewis said. “We can stay silent and watch all of this go away or we can stand up, make our voices heard and keep America great.”
Canyon Country resident and mother of five Camille Johnson said it was her first time attending with her children.
“I’m trying to do my job as a mother to instill a love of the country and our appreciation to my children for those who serve our country,” she said. “They have three of their four great-grandfathers who were veterans and this is for them to appreciate what their great-grandfathers have done for them, our community and our country.
The SCV is considered to have the highest number of veterans per capita in California, with about 8,000 to 12,000 people and their families, according to the SCV Veterans Services Collaborative. They join the nearly 1.6 million veterans who currently live in California, a figure Gov. Gavin Newsom highlighted Monday in a proclamation issuing Nov. 11 as Veterans Day in the state.